Tuesday, September 05, 2017


The reasoning mind is always looking for explanations. It puts together data gathered by the senses into patterns which may be repeated. 
The world becomes friendlier if the patterns predict dangers or opportunities which lie in the future. Rules are formulated to control the elements and behaviors with the goal of managing the outer world to benefit the mental world. Predicting and manipulating the future becomes a fascination of the reasoning mind.
Blake gave a lot of thought to developing his character Urizen who represented the reasoning mind as it had assumed dominance in the psyche. In Blake's myth this happened as a result of Urizen exchanging the horses of light for the wine of eternity which belonged to Luvah. Urizen found himself in the position of having lost dominion over the world of thought in return for desire and attachment. He focused, however, not on what he had gained but on what he had lost. He set about exploring, writing rules, and building a world in his own image. If he could control the present, he could make the future predictable in accordance with his limited vision. 
When I read of Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem I was reminded of Urizen's unending quest for a system which he completely controlled and with which he could control the behavior of those around him. When Urizen's lost faith in the light he was given in the present, it instilled in him anxiety about the future which was unknown. Blake gave us a portrayal of Urizen going to the edge of chaos seeking "for a joy without pain, For a solid without fluctuation." 

These lines are quoted from The Grammatical Man by Jeremy Campbell:

Page 108
"There is another idea of great importance arising from the Life Game [John Conway]. This is the notion of incompleteness, a famous crux of twentieth-century science and logic...He links them to von Neumann's theory of complexity and also to one of the most revolutionary modern discoveries of logic, the Incompleteness Theorem of Kurt Goedel.

...Goedel's paper does not apply to mathematical logic alone, but touches on much broader questions of the completeness of all formal systems of logic...within the wider meta system there would be other statements which could not be proved without further expansion, and so on without end. Perfect completeness is never reached.

Page 111
No final, wrapped-up all-inclusive theory of reality will ever be perfected. The nature of language, the forms of logic, the duality of matter beneath the surface we observe, the power of rules to generate new structures, the limits of knowledge, the special character of complex as opposed to simple systems, all point to this conclusion. In this respect, science and art, philosophy and politics, history and psychology, meet on common ground, so that the barriers between the cultures break down under the recognition that all are incomplete and always will be; there is no single discipline or school of thought has a monopoly on the truth.

Book of Urizen, Plate 4, (E 71)
"4: From the depths of dark solitude. From
The eternal abode in my holiness,
Hidden set apart in my stern counsels
Reserv'd for the days of futurity,
I have sought for a joy without pain,                    

For a solid without fluctuation
Why will you die O Eternals?
Why live in unquenchable burnings?"

Book of Urizen, Plate 10, (E 75)
"2. And Urizen (so his eternal name)
His prolific delight obscurd more & more
In dark secresy hiding in surgeing
Sulphureous fluid his phantasies.
The Eternal Prophet heavd the dark bellows,                      
And turn'd restless the tongs; and the hammer
Incessant beat; forging chains new & new
Numb'ring with links. hours, days & years" 

Four Zoas, Night I, Page  121, (E 300)
"But I the labourer of ages whose unwearied hands
Are thus deformd with hardness with the sword & with the spear 
And with the Chisel & the mallet I whose labours vast            
Order the nations separating family by family
Alone enjoy not   I alone in misery supreme
Ungratified give all my joy unto this Luvah & Vala             
Then Go O dark futurity I will cast thee forth from these      
Heavens of my brain nor will I look upon futurity more   
I cast futurity away & turn my back upon that void       
Which I have made for lo futurity is in this moment       
Let Orc consume let Tharmas rage let dark Urthona give
All strength to Los & Enitharmon & let Los self-cursd
Rend down this fabric as a wall ruind & family extinct           
Rage Orc Rage Tharmas Urizen no longer curbs your rage

So Urizen spoke he shook his snows from off his Shoulders & arose
As on a Pyramid of mist his white robes scattering
The fleecy white renewd he shook his aged mantles off
Into the fires Then glorious bright Exulting in his joy          
He sounding rose into the heavens in naked majesty
In radiant Youth. when Lo like garlands in the Eastern sky
When vocal may comes dancing from the East Ahania came
Exulting in her flight as when a bubble rises up
On to the surface of a lake. Ahania rose in joy" 

Four Zoas, Night II, Page 27, (E 317)
"They have surrounded me with walls of iron & brass, O Lamb  
Of God clothed in Luvahs garments little knowest thou       
Of death Eternal that we all go to Eternal Death
To our Primeval Chaos in fortuitous concourse of incoherent
Discordant principles of Love & Hate I suffer affliction
Because I love. for I was love but hatred awakes in me      
And Urizen who was Faith & Certainty is changd to Doubt          
The hand of Urizen is upon me because I blotted out
That Human delusion to deliver all the sons of God          
From bondage of the Human form, O first born Son of Light
O Urizen my enemy I weep for thy stern ambition
But weep in vain    O when will you return Vala the Wanderer     

PAGE 28 
These were the words of Luvah patient in afflictions
Reasoning from the loins in the unreal forms of Ulros night"
Letters, (E 784)
"[To] Mr Linnell, 6 Cirencester Place, Fitzroy Square
25 April 1827
Dear Sir
     I am going on better Every day as I think both in hea[l]th &
in Work I thank you for The Ten Pounds which I recievd from you
this Day which shall be put to the best use as also for the
prospect of Mr Ottleys advantageous acquaintance I go on without
daring to count on Futurity. which I cannot do without Doubt &
Fear that ruins Activity & are the greatest hurt to an Artist
such as I am. as to Ugolino &c I never supposed that I should
sell them my Wife alone is answerable for their having Existed in
any finishd State--I am too much attachd to Dante to think much
of any thing else--I have Proved the Six Plates & reduced the
Fighting Devils ready for the Copper I count myself sufficiently
Paid If I live as I now do & only fear that I may be unlucky
to my friends & especially that I may not be so to you
I am Sincerely yours

Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 79, (E 354)
"In tortures of dire coldness now a Lake of waters deep
Sweeps over thee freezing to solid still thou sitst closd up     
In that transparent rock as if in joy of thy bright prison
Till overburdend with its own weight drawn out thro immensity
With a crash breaking across the horrible mass comes down
Thundring & hail & frozen iron haild from the Element
Rends thy white hair   yet thou dost fixd obdurate brooding sit 
Writing thy books. Anon a cloud filld with a waste of snows
Covers thee still obdurate still resolvd & writing still
Tho rocks roll oer thee tho floods pour tho winds black as the Sea
Cut thee in gashes tho the blood pours down around thy ankles
Freezing thy feet to the hard rock still thy pen obdurate        
Traces the wonders of Futurity in horrible fear of the future
I rage furious in the deep for lo my feet & hands are naild
To the hard rock or thou shouldst feel my enmity & hate
In all the diseases of man falling upon thy grey accursed front

Urizen answerd Read my books explore my Constellations 
Enquire of my Sons & they shall teach thee how to War
Enquire of my Daughters who accursd in the dark depths
Knead bread of Sorrow by my stern command for I am God
Of all this dreadful ruin   Rise O daughters at my Stern command"

Four Zoas, Night VII, Page (E 373)
"Horrible hooks & nets he formd twisting the cords of iron
And brass & molten metals cast in hollow globes & bor'd
Tubes in petrific steel & rammd combustibles & wheels 
And chains & pullies fabricated all round the heavens of Los
Communing with the Serpent of Orc in dark dissimulation

And with the Synagogue of Satan in dark Sanhedrim         
To undermine the World of Los & tear bright Enitharmon

To the four winds hopeless of future. All futurity 
Seems teeming with Endless Destruction never to be repelld 
Desperate remorse swallows the present in a quenchless rage

Terrified & astonishd Urizen beheld the battle take a form 
Which he intended not a Shadowy hermaphrodite black & opake
The Soldiers namd it Satan but he was yet unformd & vast
Hermaphroditic it at length became hiding the Male
Within as in a Tabernacle Abominable Deadly

The battle howls the terrors fird rage in the work of death"

Four Zoas, Noght IX, Page 119, (E 389)
"I weary walk in misery & pain 
For from within my witherd breast grown narrow with my woes 
The Corn is turnd to thistles & the apples into poison
The birds of song to murderous crows My joys to bitter groans

PAGE 120 
The voices of children in my tents to cries of helpless infants
And all exiled from the face of light & shine of morning
In this dark world a narrow house I wander up & down
I hear Mystery howling in these flames of Consummation
When shall the Man of future times become as in days of old 
O weary life why sit I here & give up all my powers
To indolence to the night of death when indolence & mourning
Sit hovring over my dark threshold. tho I arise look out
And scorn the war within my members yet my heart is weak
And my head faint Yet will I look again unto the morning 
Whence is this sound of rage of Men drinking each others blood
Drunk with the smoking gore & red but not with nourishing wine

The Eternal Man sat on the Rocks & cried with awful voice

O Prince of Light where art thou   I behold thee not as once
In those Eternal fields in clouds of morning stepping forth 
With harps & songs where bright Ahania sang before thy face
And all thy sons & daughters gatherd round my ample table
See you not all this wracking furious confusion
Come forth from slumbers of thy cold abstraction come forth
Arise to Eternal births shake off thy cold repose 
Schoolmaster of souls great opposer of change arise
That the Eternal worlds may see thy face in peace & joy
That thou dread form of Certainty maist sit in town & village
While little children play around thy feet in gentle awe
Fearing thy frown loving thy smile O Urizen Prince of light" 

1 comment:

Susan J. said...

This paragraph you wrote caught my eye, Ellie:

"Blake gave a lot of thought to developing his character Urizen who represented the reasoning mind as it had assumed dominance in the psyche. In Blake's myth this happened as a result of Urizen exchanging the horses of light for the wine of eternity which belonged to Luvah. Urizen found himself in the position of having lost dominion over the world of thought in return for desire and attachment."

Don has been thinking a lot about horses lately - he got started with a couple of different books about early human civilization and the importance of horses, and especially how long horses remained central to humanity. We watch Gunsmoke every day on TV - lots of horses carrying the load so to speak - and I just read yesterday something linguistic about how the man on horseback has been a longtime signifier of authority, domination, control...

Why do you suppose humanity would voluntarily give up light for love? Kind of like the tension between speaking both love and peace, eh?

I'm going to email Don this message, and link to your post :-)

Much love,